Recent Reads | March 2017

Michaela

The Salt Roads | Nalo Hopkinson- This was our sci-fi/fantasy book club pick, and frankly pretty out of step with the normal choices by the Sword and Laser. While I'm very glad this book exists for people that it might resonate with, unfortunately that person was not me and I did not enjoy it. I found it a little trite, clunky, and heavy on shock-value writing without any real story arc or resolution despite having good broad themes of sisterhood and empowerment.

The Outsiders | S.E. Hinton- This quick novel reads like someone telling you a story in one long intense exhale. I can see why it is often read in school, the themes are smack-you-in-the-face obvious, but I still couldn't put it down. The narration style is just so earnestly compelling and drags you along, with a surprising amount of sweetness layered into this rough and tumble coming of age story. 

Special Topics in Calamity Physics | Marisha Pessl- This was described as being similar to The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which I LOVED, so my curiosity was piqued. However, what I primarily love about The Secret History is the amazing writing and the atmosphere that Tartt crafts, but Special Topics was really cluttered and clunky, which made it a slog to read. I've honestly set this one aside for now, which I rarely do, but 30% in, with almost no plot progression, and writing that I kind of hate...it was time to let it go.

Moonglow | Michael Chabon- Chabon is a magnificent writer, pretty much every sentence had a turn of phrase or word choice that was brilliant, which made it a pure joy to read. I tend to avoid WWII as a subject in books of any kind, it's just a topic I abhor in any context, but I pushed through this one simply because Chabon is such a beautiful, clever writer. I know this is getting a lot of buzz, and for good reason; it's a seriously beautiful book. I'm excited to pick up more of his work in the future. 

A Room With A View | E.M. Forster- Our very first read-a-long! Ahhh I've been meaning to read this book for years, and it's such a lovely movie, so thankfully the novel didn't disappoint! I was surprised at how much I loved it; I loved the warmth and the passion and the just the simply kind tone of the whole thing. I loved the humor, the subtext, just....everything. Gush gush gush. I am always so excited when I find a classic author that I truly adore.

One True Loves | Taylor Jenkins Reid- Heard about this one on the What Should I Read Next podcast, and it popped up in the "lucky day" section of my local library, so I snagged it to take with me as a light read on vacation. Essentially, the plot is Castaway, but from Helen Hunt's perspective, instead of Tom Hanks'. It was actually really nicely written, very contemporary and easy to fly right through. It was ultimately about what you'd expect, fun fluff, but still a bit of an emotional rollercoaster and a highly pleasant read.

 

RIKKI

Tortilla Flat | John Steinbeck - My first Steinbeck for our local book club! I rather enjoyed this short story, and was quite surprised at others' viewpoints on this novel. Thankfully, my vintage copy has an introduction that set the stage for the true simplicity of Steinbeck, specifically this story, and I really associated with the "wild and free" type of people he wrote about. Ironically, or so I found it to be so, other's from the book club did not see it that way and took many religious and fascist views on the male characters, amongst other things. Interesting. Simple.

Pride and Prejudice | Jane Austen - Man oh man, I wanted to love this book, I wanted to love it so badly. Cue Kathleen Kelly, "I've read Pride and Prejudice about 200 times, and I'm always in agony over whether Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are really going to get together." I thought of her words many times over the course of the novel. What I discovered upon reading it, is that I am not very compelled by character driven novels. I appreciated the book and there were many parts I enjoyed.

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax | Dorothy Gilman - A book I read for one of my college classes. This is considered a "spy" novel. It's an unexpected, fun, and different type of story to fit into the genre with a 60 some year old woman as the main character. She's witty and charming, you'll certainly love her, I know I did! It's a quick read and I'd recommend it for anyone looking to stray from their usual.

Our Man in Havana | Graham Greene - Another book for my college class. I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as the previous, it's also an unexpected "spy" type where a man inadvertently falls into the secret agent world. It was interesting and at times fun to read.

A Room With A View | E.M. Forester - Our lovely spring read-a-long based in Italy. I am head over heels for books based in Europe, especially with vivid details painting the landscape and culture for me. The characters were written well, where you clearly understood where everyone stands and how they feel. Like many, I enjoyed more of the second half versus the first, and this story came just in time for all the spring flowers blooming! 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon | Kelly Barnhill - I heard about this book on a podcast and was so intrigued by the title and tough-to-get-ahold-of rumors. Luckily, I snagged it up from the library right away! My son read it first, then when I needed a quick, fun read, I picked it up. I read it in about two days, and really enjoyed the fantasy element. Even before I read it, I was reminded of L. Frank Baum's The Adventures of Santa Claus that my son and I read last Christmas. Odd comparison, I know, but there is a similar tale there. It is very well written, vivid, exciting, and quite a page turner.